GB&I lead USA 7-5 after Walker Cup Day 1

Great Britain & Ireland, after a day that witnessed just about every kind of weather, maintained its advantage following the morning foursomes matches by splitting the eight afternoon singles matches for a 7-5 lead over the United States at the 2011 Walker Cup Match at Royal Aberdeen.

I have got a lot of faith in them,” GB&I captain Nigel Edwards said of his team. “They are good players and they have been playing in tough conditions all year. They have been battered all year by the elements and they have risen to the challenge today.”

The home side held a 3-1 lead after the morning alternate-shot matches, thanks to three consecutive victories. It was the best GB&I first-session effort since 2003 when it defeated the USA at Ganton by one point. The first-day lead was also the first by a GB&I side since 1995 at Royal Porthcawl in Wales. GB&I is seeking to end a three-Match losing streak to the USA.

The USA holds a 9-3 lead in Walker Cup matches played in Scotland, but GB&I won the last Match contested there at Nairn in 1999.

Each side won four of the eight singles matches in the afternoon, but the US gained some momentum by taking the first three before GB&I’s Rhys Pugh, the youngest competitor at 17, overcame a 3-hole deficit to beat Patrick Rodgers, 2&1. Rodgers started the match by making six birdies over the first seven holes.

“He's a great lad, Rhys,” said Edwards. “And dealing with that barrage that came at him, five birdies [in a row to start] and then Patrick chipped in for birdie on seven, but I saw Rhys come in off the 10th green, and I knew he was okay.  I played foursomes with him myself for Wales, and he's got me out of trouble lots of times.”

Following Pugh’s victory, GB&I won three more consecutive singles matches.

Paul Cutler of GB&I and Patrick Cantlay of the US were the only players to go 2-0 on the first day of this biennial amateur team competition, which began in 1922.

Cutler combined with fellow Ulsterman Alan Dunbar to win their foursomes match, and he followed that with a 2&1 singles defeat of 2011 US Amateur champion Kelly Kraft.

Cantlay, the low amateur at the 2011 U.S. Open, won the US’s sole point of the morning with Chris Williams. He followed with a 2&1 victory over Scotland’s Michael Stewart in singles to break the GB&I run of three consecutive wins.

They putted really strongly today and made a lot of putts,” US captain Jim Holtgrieve said of GB&I. “So putting is the name of the game. I think our guys will sleep well tonight [and] come fired up for tomorrow. 

We had a little team meeting and we are okay. We are at peace with everything that happened today. We had some matches that we were done; they fired, came back, and some other matches where we were up that went the other way. But you know, that's what Walker Cup golf's all about.”

Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart of GB&I were two down through seven holes in the morning’s first foursomes match against Peter Uihlein and Harris English, but birdied the eighth, 10th and 11th holes en route to a 2&1 win.

In the second and third matches, respectively, Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan of GB&I defeated Russell Henley and Kraft, 2&1.

The Walker Cup concludes tomorrow with four foursomes and 10 singles matches.

Day 1 Results

Foursomes (GB&I, 3-1)

Tom Lewis and Michael Stewart (GB&I) d. Peter Uihlein and Harris English (USA), 2 and 1

Jack Senior and Andy Sullivan (GB&I) d. Russell Henley and Kelly Kraft (USA), 2 and 1

Paul Cutler and Alan Dunbar (GB&I) d. Nathan Smith and Blayne Barber (USA), 5 and 4

Patrick Cantlay and Chris Williams (USA) d. Steven Brown and Stiggy Hodgson (GB&I), 5 and 3


Singles (GB&I and USA, 4-4)

Peter Uihlein (USA) d. Tom Lewis (GB&I), 2 and 1

Jordan Spieth (USA) d. Jack Senior (GB&I), 3 and 2

Harris English (USA) d. Andy Sullivan (GB&I), 2 and 1

Rhys Pugh (GB&I) d. Patrick Rodgers (USA), 2 and 1

Steven Brown (GB&I) d. Russell Henley (USA), 1 up

James Byrne (GB&I) d. Nathan Smith (USA), 2 and 1

Paul Cutler (GB&I) d. Kelly Kraft (USA), 2 and 1

Patrick Cantlay (USA) d. Michael Stewart (GB&I), 2 and 1

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